TUBA Mayor Ignacio Rivera expressed optimism for the opening of the Mount Sto. Tomas, however stressed the master plan being studied and issues should be addressed in the forest reserve.
“For Santo Tomas, this has to be studied further. With the master plan still ongoing, there are requirements being discussed during meetings that there should be a constructed public comfort room, staging area for waste and the presence of available water,” the mayor added.
A Mt. Sto Tomas Environmental Committee was earlier created composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera, Department of Tourism-CAR, Department of Public Works and Highways-Cordillera, Benguet, Tuba and all residents in Mt. Sto Tomas.
The executive chief relayed the opening depends once the local government unit also fulfilled its commitment. A P500,000 budget is eyed for the construction of one comfort room but the location has yet to be identified.
He added concerns previously discussed is to identify whether outsiders conducting business are not allowed to enter.
The Supreme Court earlier granted a Writ of Kalikasan filed by religious leaders in Baguio City who questioned the destruction of the mountain and alleged cutting of 700 trees by former Baguio Representative Nicasio Aliping.
DENR-Cordillera regional director Ralph Pablo reiterated Mt. Sto Tomas is still close to tourists.
Mt. Sto Tomas serve as highest peak in Baguio City at 2,256 meters above sea level. Last year, the Benguet Provincial Board backed an ordinance providing guidelines in the conservation of the forest reserve authored by Tuba Councilors.
Prohibited acts include conduct of business, construction of infrastructure projects, expansion of agricultural activities, application of permits, application of tax declarations, cutting of trees and acts that is detrimental of the natural resources.
Prior to conduct of programs, projects and activities, a clearance from the DENR must be secured.
Proclamation No. 581 series of 1940 established Santo Tomas Forest Reserve for forest protection, timber production and a parcel of the public domain situated in the municipality.